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Cattle at the Watering Hole | Emil van Marcke de Lummen

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Cattle at the Watering Hole

Oil on Linen | signed lower left "Em van Marcke"

Item # 103PKP25W 

A large and very fine pastoral landscape painting of five cows at the watering hole in an open field before a group of trees, the work feels very immediate with the two nearest cows and the calf looking up at the viewer and watching any onlooker warily. From our perspective we can very literally feel the moment experienced in situ by Marcke in working up the scene. Typical of his work, it is intricately detailed with a vivid use of a high-chroma overall palette with a vigorous and excited brushwork throughout; the composition of the scene and placement of the cows is carefully balanced for effect.

The work is housed in an early carved giltwood frame of very good overall quality.

Emile van Marcke de Lummen was renowned for his nostalgic pastoral landscape scenes. From a line of Belgian artisans, he was surrounded by artists as a child and was influenced by the work of both his grandfather Charles van Marcke (Belgium, 1773-1830) and father Jean-Baptiste Marcke (1797-1848). Charles was an accomplished artist specializing in porcelain work as well as wonderful pastoral landscapes and Jean-Baptiste worked as an artist at the Sevres factory from around 1825.

Emile was born at Sèvres, Hauts-de-Seine in France on August 20th of 1827 and studied drawing and art as a child, starting his work professionally at the Sevres factory in 1853. It was here in Sèvres that he formed an association with Constant Troyon, the great Barbizon animal painter. Noticing the young painter's work, Troyon took an interest in van Marcke and gave him guidance that would influence the trajectory of his entire career. His debt to Troyon would be tangible, as his mentor urged him towards the realistic portrayal of farm animals and introduced him to the Barbizon school of painting, a combination that remained incredibly popular in France and beyond throughout his career.

Exhibiting for the first time at the Paris Salon in 1857, he was quickly classified as being among the best of the animal painters and he continued to exhibit there every year through his death. In his February 1891 obituary, The Magazine of Art wrote:

"In M. Émile van Marcke de [L]ummen, France has lost one of the most distinguished of her animal painters... He was an indefatigable worker, and since 1857 the Salon has never been without a specimen of his skill."

By 1862 he was supporting himself enough with his paintings that he could leave employment at the Sèvres factory and he began animal studies at the impierial farms in Villeneuve l'Étang and Grignon. He would eventually settle in Normandy in the valley of the River Bresle, a fertile land with rich landscapes and abundant cattle. He was awarded medals in 1867, 1869 and 1870, and was appointed Chevalier of the Legion d'Honneur in 1872. At the Exposition Universelle of 1878 he received a first-class medal. In addition to his exhibits, he was an influential force in the art community and was a founder member of the Société des Artistes Français. He continued to produce a great number of paintings until his death in Hyères on December 24th of 1890.

Market results: 

  • June, 2011, Sotheby's, $15,000 - "CATTLE IN A FIELD"
  • April, 2005, Christie's, $12,000 - "CATTLE IN A MEADOW"
  • March, 2004, Christie's, $10,864 - "CATTLE AT THE RIVER"
  • October, 2002, Christie's, $14,340 - "THE APPROACHING STORM"
  • October, 1992, Christie's, $11,000 - "PEASANT TENDING HIS ANIMALS BY THE SEA"

Artist Listings & Bibliography:

  • E. Benezit Dictionary of Artists, Vol. IX, Gründ, 2006, p. 238

Measurements: 32 1/4" H x 42 3/4" W x 3 3/8" D [frame]; 23" H x 33 1/2" W [canvas]

Condition Report:
Professionally cleaned and conserved. Original stretchers and keys; linen wax lined with a coarse linen with wrapped edges; light abrasions around extreme edges from frame rubbing have been touched up, otherwise apparently free of inpainting; under UV examination shows heavy flaring from the recently applied Damar varnish. Good early frame with some losses to carved motif throughout, some areas of regilding and touchups. A very fine presentation, ready to place.